Thailand Japan

Chanathip: Tokura taught me how to head game-winner

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin had the most impressive performance of his J.League career on Sunday, assisting Jay Bothroyd’s opener before scoring the winning goal in his team’s 2-1 win over V-Varen Nagasaki.

After a scoreless first half, the Thai star set up Bothroyd with an exquisite through pass in the 53rd minute, leaving the former England international with little more to do than head the ball past V-Varen goalkeeper Takuya Masuda.

With seconds remaining in extra time it was Bothroyd who turned provider, heading in a cross from left of the goal, with 158-centimetre Chanathip rising up to meet the ball and defiantly head it into the back of the net.

Chanathip was pleased to celebrate his first goal scored in front of the home crowd at the Sapporo dome, intermixing his native Thai along with the local Hokkaido dialect of Japanese to roaring approval during his MVP speech.

“I want to thank my coach, my teammates, Jay, and the fans,” Chanathip told reporters after the match. “We came to win at home and I feel so happy that we did it.

“Every day in training, our coach taught us where to move when the ball comes. Where Jay stood and where I went weren’t different from training,”

Bothroyd, who reached the scoreboard for the second week in a row, had plenty of praise for his scoring partner.

“Chana played me through with a really good pass on my goal,” the veteran reflected. “For the winning goal […] I had to make a Michael Jordan-type jump, and Chanathip scored, so I was happy with that.

“We knew today would be important. We wanted to get these three points and go into the break feeling positive.”

It did not escape the attention of the the media, or Chanathip himself, that both of his goals this season have come off his head.

“Ken Tokura taught me (how to head the ball), I may teach him how to play with his feet,” the 24-year-old said before exiting the mixed zone.